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Monitoring rail safety

Our commitment to safety on rail networks includes tracking licence holders’ performance in meeting their legal, safety and operational obligations. The main way we do this is through conducting safety assessments, which check the compliance of licence holders with their safety cases. We also monitor and respond to accident and incident notifications that licence holders must report to us following the processes we have agreed with them.

Safety assessments

All licence holders are assessed to ensure they are complying with their safety cases and safety systems.

Safety assessors conduct the safety assessments and prepare a report on their findings. We usually pass on the assessment costs to the licence holder.

There are two types of rail safety assessment:

  • Ordinary safety assessment: this reviews and samples the licence holder’s compliance with its safety case and safety system, the Railways Act 2005 and other applicable legislation.
  • Special safety assessment: this is undertaken if we determine on reasonable grounds that a rail participant's activities could cause death or serious injury to individuals, or significant damage to property.

Assessment findings

An assessment is not an inspection. For example, the assessor won't inspect track conditions but will check to see that the track is being inspected by a suitably qualified person, at specified intervals and using processes as set out in the approved safety case.

If an assessor observes a process that does not comply with the licence holder's safety case, they must note this in their report and recommend some actions the licence holder may take to comply.

If the assessor observes a process that complies but could be done better, they provide a 'recommendation' in their report as to what the licence holder could do to improve.

Accident and incident notification

Under the Railways Act 2005 (external link) , all rail licensees are required to report any accident or incident to us as soon as practicable using the accident and incident notification form. Where incidents are serious, licensees need to call our emergency number within the response time stated in their approved safety case (04 499 1858).

We are required to notify the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (external link) of all accidents, and of any incidents that we consider the commission should investigate.

Promoting rail safety

We are responsible for promoting safety on and around New Zealand's rail transport networks. This covers aspects ranging from safe driving behaviours around level crossings to discouraging people from trespassing on and around railways. In this section we've drawn together a collection of information sources on rail safety. It's about respecting the danger and staying alert to the risks.

We also promote rail safety through our sponsorship of the Tourist & Heritage Rail Safety Award as part of the Federation of Rail Organisations of New Zealand (FRONZ) annual awards. See the FRONZ website (external link) for more information. 

Find out more about rail safety promotion

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